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Dietary DHA and health: cognitive function ageing

  • Carlos Cardoso (a1) (a2), Cláudia Afonso (a1) (a2) and Narcisa M. Bandarra (a1) (a2)


DHA is a key nutritional n-3 PUFA and needs to be supplied by the human diet. DHA is found in significant amounts in the retinal and neuronal cell membranes due to its high fluidity. Indeed, DHA is selectively concentrated in the synaptic and retinal membranes. DHA is deemed to display anti-inflammatory properties and to reduce the risk of CVD. Consumption of larger amounts of DHA appears to reduce the risk of depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and mood disorders. Conversely, it has been shown that loss of DHA from the nerve cell membrane leads to dysfunction of the central nervous system in the form of anxiety, irritability, susceptibility to stress, dyslexia, impaired memory and cognitive functions, and extended reaction times. DHA plays an important role in ensuring a healthy ageing, by thwarting macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, and other brain disorders at the same time as enhancing memory and strengthening neuroprotection in general. A reduced level of DHA is associated with cognitive decline during ageing. Different mechanisms for this fundamental DHA role have been put forward. Namely, neuroprotectin D1, a DHA derivative, may support brain cell survival and repair through neurotrophic, anti-apoptotic, and anti-inflammatory signalling. Many of the effects of DHA on the neurological system may be related to signalling connections, thus leading to the study of the related signalolipidomics. Therefore, the present review will focus on the influence of DHA deficiency upon ageing, with specific emphasis upon neurological disorders related to cognitive function and mental health.

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* Corresponding authors: Carlos Cardoso, email; Cláudia Afonso, email


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Dietary DHA and health: cognitive function ageing

  • Carlos Cardoso (a1) (a2), Cláudia Afonso (a1) (a2) and Narcisa M. Bandarra (a1) (a2)


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